Overheard/Witnessed: MBTA Car, Inbound, Ashmont to Alewife, 8:15 AM

I could have forgiven the whole thing if they were wearing this...

This one was actually pretty short but it bears writing about.

Dramatis Personae:

The Dancer. Youth, early 20s. White sweatshirt, designer jeans, black plastic sneakers. Braids.

In The Moment. Youth, early 20s. Black hoodie. What looks like harpoons in his face.

The Dancer boards, holding on the pole to the left of me. He has ear buds in, and it is loud enough to hear the hip-hop joint that he begins DANCING to. Not crazy-ass dancing (I once saw a girl in NYC do a pole dance to the music only she could hear on her iPod, it’s one of my favorite NYC moments) but there is some bobbing, some ass action, and some challenging an imaginary adversary to a dance-off on the floor. Except we’re on an inbound MBTA car, son. Oh, and did I say the adversary was imaginary? Not anymore!

In The Moment boards. He looks like he has seen the other side and it’s not exactly halcyon up in there. His handheld device is BLARING some kind of combination nu-metal/rap concoction. Worse than say Linkin Park or Korn (is that possible?). He is without ear buds, he is just LISTENING to his phone play shitty music. And making the rest of us do the same. My morning trip to Venice (I finally got around to reading The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt) has been ruined. The city has already been sunk for me.

The Dancer (still dancing) dances to the other side of the car, directly opposite In The Moment. Their eyes lock. It’s a spaghetti western. Correction, it’s an asshole western. In The Moment closes his eyes tightly, brings the handheld device (still blaring “You Thought Metal Was Bad But We Added Shitty Rapping To It” by Suck) to his chin and freezes. He is In The Moment. He is lost in shredding guitar riffs and bellowing. The Dancer begins to bump his ass against the doors directly behind him, angry that In The Moment has chosen passive resistance. He wants to throw down, but what he doesn’t get is that In The Moment IS throwing down. Because this music is SO good he simply has to FEEL it. The Dancer puffs his chest out and club steps in place.

Is this the shitty remake of Fame? Is this a fucking Droid commercial? Can they tie their wrists together and knife fight and do us all a favor and hit the right artery at exactly the same moment? At least Scott Pilgrim had cool effects during this scene and Allison Pill on drums!

This is not your performing arts high school! It’s really loud on this fucking train now! This is not the dorm or your living room. People have books and ear buds for a reason so everyone can keep whatever they’re into to their goddamn selves. This is Boston. People’s lives shouldn’t get splashed all over each other! No one wants this. This is not a rebellion, these are challenged people!

Anyway – no one won. In fact, I think we all lost a little this morning.

The only way I can forgive audible music on the subway is if it’s coming out of a boom box that lights up and it’s 1983 and someone’s named Lazer.



8 Responses to “Overheard/Witnessed: MBTA Car, Inbound, Ashmont to Alewife, 8:15 AM”

  1. Denise Says:

    “He looks like he has seen the other side and it’s not exactly halcyon up in there.”
    Nothing but thanks for your hellish commutes. I’ve awarded the last couple of days of my life a big poop sandwich, but you just made me laugh and cry happy tears. Keep it up, please. I also love your description of The Moment’s music. That’s a keeper and a classic.


  2. peppermint Says:

    Dear J. Harvey,

    Your hellacious commutes bring me such joy I can skip complaining about my own morning. I don’t know what I would do if faced with anyone dancing and expressing his anger and pain on a fucking train. I would probably end up strangling him with his Ipod headphones.


  3. elns Says:


    sometimes i don’t need coffee in the a.m. before work. i just need to get on the train to get the blood going — esp. draggin’ around the 7 yr old.

    he would pee his pants to see a dance-off on muni.

    he also dances to “music in his head” on the train. i don’t mind though. he’s just holding the pole, not you know … ON the pole 😉

    great stuff. i miss it when you don’t post. im a creature of habit keep it up so i can be nice to the other inmates.


  4. cece Says:

    I look for your posts the way a drowning man looks for a lifeboat! Seriously, I love you! 🙂


  5. Zekers Says:

    I felt like I was there…and glad I wasn’t! Thanks for the early morning chortle!


  6. Amy Says:

    I am seriously considering heading to beantown to join you on morning commutes. The local entertainment on the train would definitely be a vast improvement over my psychosis and rage inducing AM drive.


  7. Ashes Says:

    I love these Overheard/Witnessed posts. It’s nice to know that NY isn’t the only place with “off” people on their subways.


  8. Erin Says:

    I love these stories. It almost makes me wish that Tampa had a usable public transportation system. almost


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